Traces of artificial carvings were immersed in the darkness. Rows of columns had extended forward and backwards at equal intervals. Peering upwards through the narrow gaps between the cliff walls, the columns seemed shortened and overlapping at the far end of the field of view; together, the smooth wall looked as if it was paved with obsidian. However, its surface was covered with a lattice network to transmit energy. This looked like the one Brendel had seen in the Valhalla underground. This was no different from the properties of Milo’s remains that were scattered in the glaciers.
Truthfully, similar material could be found readily in several historical sites within Vaunte. The only knowledge enthusiasts shared in common was that they had come from the previous era.
This indeed looked like a long corridor, perhaps it could be referred to as so in the previous era. But now, only half of the corridor remained. No one knew what disaster had befallen it for the corridor to be cut in the middle. There was only a bottomless abyss awaiting it on the other end. The long corridor was built on the cliff while its structure winded to the ground.
In the game, this was the Frozen Corridor.
A group of people were slowly passing through the half corridor from the last era, and possibly even way before the chaotic era.
Among them was a blonde, who was tugging along a short and stout boy to lead the advance. They were Aloz and Shitah. Following closely behind them were Brendel and Veronica, while the female scholar was tailed behind the female squad leader. Once the ice-covered route had become increasingly dangerous, she was no longer asking Brendel any weird questions. Everyone could not afford to be careless, keeping a distance of one person behind every three people. Carrying a piece of baggage that was higher than her being, Scarlet was silent. She merely hung her head low while her red long ponytail swayed with her footsteps occasionally. Honestly, there was no need for her to go through such trouble. At Brendel’s request, the Buga Craft Mage had already cast illusion magic on the Azure Lance. Practitioners of the Secret Realm Law among the Buga folks had dedicated their lives to studying illusion magic. They were known as the Guardians of the silver holy wall; they were the best Dreamcasters in the Amber Sword. One would require to be two ranks superior to their existence to see the flaws in their illusion.
The caster this time was the leader of the Practitioners of the Secret Realm Law, the Head Mage of the Silver League---- Roan. His capabilities were comparable to William and were at least two levels superior to him in the field of spells. Aside from the saint of Eleranta, perhaps there were no such entities to exist in this world.
Brendel was naturally not afraid that Eleranta would come forward to Aouine to expose his plan.
Right behind was the little prince. The future king of Aouine was stumbling along the path. He had sustained bruises all over his face. If they were still in the palace, servants would’ve quickly tended to him and helped him forward. But of course, only in the absence of one particular strict woman. At this moment, Ciel, Hipamila and Medissa were within his vicinity. However, they had yet to offer his assistance. Unbeknownst to the prince, the self-proclaimed youngest mage instructor in Aouine history was snickering to his heart’s delight. Even Medissa was trying her best to suppress the smirk that was threatening to burst past her lips. They were only in charge of keeping the little prince away from the abyss; the rest would have to come from Brendel’s instructions.
Further behind was the Laurenna couple and the eldest son of the Kirrlutz Royal Family along with many Kirrlutzian nobles, whose entourage had consisted of Babasha and another three excellent Witches. At the end of the group was the Ash Sword Saint, who was the strongest existence among them all. Mephisto’s main responsibility was to protect everyone from behind. There was no guarantee that the bottom of the abyss would be safe. Even Brendel didn’t dare say that he understood this quest of the game. The man literally hadn’t ventured deep into this place, so it was safe to say that he knew close to nothing. Who knew if there would be any changes to the ‘Real Vaunte’?
After gradually getting used to this world, Brendel could almost confirm that this world named Vaunte wasn’t a part of the game; it wasn’t an illusion or dream either. Though he had once doubted that someone was trying to play a malicious prank on him, or that this was just a ‘Truman Show’ scenario, he no longer bore those fantasies as time passed. He began to call this world the ‘Real Vaunte’. Everything was operating in this world more naturally than in the game. Though there were some similarities and differences, they felt more genuine.
Though a real game world was indeed kinda odd.
After passing through the underground glacier, Shitah was really leading them to the underground entrance of the Holy Cathedral of the Sleep. They were not far from where Peja’s brother had fallen. Brendel couldn’t help but feel a little sceptical, feeling as though something had been guiding them to this place in the dark. Arreck was obviously new to the path beneath the glacier so why was Peja’s brother here? This was something worth debating.
Unfortunately, the hunter siblings were still unconscious so Brendel had no way of getting answers.
He had heard about the underground entrance to the Holy Cathedral of the Sleep previously. The upper portion of the abyss was called the White Valley, where the only entrance to the cathedral lies. It was separated into two parts, one aboveground and one underground. The one aboveground would lead to the Zweit Glaciers where the Ice Eater resides while the underground entrance was connected to the Frozen Corridor.
Brendel moved forward with the rest of the formation carefully. He walked as he placed a palm on the icy blue corridor pillars sandwiched between the ice and snow. There was one at about five to six metres apart, protruding from the wall like a rib. The sensation of these pillars was cold, heavy and very realistic; very much different from the game’s simulation. Though Brendel hadn’t been here before, he knew that this material would feel special when touched in the game. It was almost as if one could feel the malice and bloodshed of the previous era. This was a sensation so strong that it could seize Brendel’s heart with chilliness- an atmosphere created by the special emotional system in the game.
However, it wasn’t the case for this place. All of the corridors were made of regular stone, giving off a solid feeling upon touch. “Oh, so that’s how it feels like,” thought Brendel to himself. Even though this adventure was dangerous, Brendel was intrigued by the opportunity to experience the game truly.
The female squad leader noticed his odd behaviour. She asked hushedly, “Have you been here?”
Brendel was in so much shock that he almost slipped. He quickly answered, “Never.”
“Never? You look like you were reminiscing the past earlier,” rebuked Veronica directly. She didn’t like how this little bastard was always beating around the bush.
“That’s because I’ve seen this corridor, the pillars and the walls elsewhere,” answered Brendel, puffs of hot air escaping his mouth.
“Where have you seen it?”
“From a book.” Brendel didn’t require much to produce this answer, it felt almost natural to say that. Theoretically, a forum was pretty close to a book. “I’ve seen the corridor today once upon a time in a book. For real, I realized it after measuring the pillars.”
The reasoning was acceptable. Though the Holy Cathedral of the Sleep was forbidden territory, it didn’t mean that no one had ever stepped foot into this place in history. The people of Miirna had once frequented this path and the Buga Mages and Mist Elves had followed their footsteps to this place. Approximately ten years after that, the Black Fire cult had occupied the cathedral, thus making it a famous copy for later generations. The Holy Cathedral of the Sleep was no stranger to Veronica’s ear. Yet, she continued to stare at Brendel suspiciously. Did the Tower Mage really own such an extensive library of information? This little bastard had always been excusing all of his reasonings as a contribution of the Tower Mage’s intellectual collection. The Tower Mage had come from the Silver Rank Bugas, Veronica didn’t believe that they had always brought the Bugas literature collection during migration.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much exchange going on between the Kirrlutz Empire and the Tower Mage. If it wasn’t the case, Veronica would’ve tried to verify Brendel’s sources. For now, she could only remain dubious about his statements.
At this moment, Shido, who was following behind the two spoke, “Seeing really is believing. Words are merely descriptions of the author’s opinion but personal rectification really is the key to true comprehension.” There were sparkles in her eyes. Her latter statement was the real why she decided to leave the academy for Aouine. “Just like the Count, I’ve learnt a lot today.” Shido’s words were filled with emotions. It seemed as though the scholar had reached some sort of enlightenment.
Veronica sighed, finding Shido’s words somewhat reasonable. She casted one last glance at Brendel, no longer doubting the man.
Brendel was relieved. However, he was still rather troubled by the sharpness and intelligence of the female squad leader. This served as a good reminder for him to be warier of his actions. Brendel retracted his hands, no longer reaching out to caress anything along the corridor. The forum had mentioned that the Frozen Corridor should only take thirty minutes to reach its end, the current time had indicated that they were almost past the halfway point of the distance. The latter half of the corridor had led deep into the ground to the Holy Cathedral of the Sleep’s interior. Brendel pursed his lips. The last two-thirds of the corridor was where the Disaster Twins of the Dusk Wolves, Mayne and Mel, would make their appearance. It was just a matter of time until the two black wolves would come into sight.
Mayne and Mel were the very last generation of the Dusk Wolves. They were birthed by the seventh daughter of Chief Warg Hati, Jynhai. Jynhai was the ruler of the Moon of Eternal Darkness, hence the twins’ power was mostly associated with darkness and shadow. Mayne and Mel’s appearance was similar, looking exactly like gigantic black wolves with a long horn protruding out of their forehead. Despite that, Mayne had lost his left eye in a battle with the Dragon of Calamity, leaving behind an eye with a long scar running along its socket that could be used to distinguish between the brothers.
The wolves were of SS drop rate in the ‘Amber Sword’, imprisoned in one of the secret passages that lead to the ground above the Holy Cathedral. Brendel was bound to meet them through travelling along this path. If they had entered the cathedral through the front entrance, they would’ve missed them. As SS rank characters, Mayne and Mel were one of the most powerful bosses in the first four acts. Usually, Brendel would hope to avoid them as much as possible in the game but now, he just couldn’t wait for their appearances.
The reason? Well, when one’s formation had consisted of characters like Mephisto, Veronica and the little female dragon, difficult characters like Mayne and Mel were now just a mobile treasure to Brendel. His nominal teacher, Ash Sword Saint Mephisto, had already been maxed out in statistics. Mephisto’s advancement had even gone further than in the game. Brendel had no doubt that Mephisto alone could easily defeat the Twins of the Dusk Wolves.
The drop list of the twins was only second to the final SS rank wave of this game quest.
Despite that, there was a concern. There was no guarantee that the wolves would appear. Brendel could only pray and hope his luck was good enough.
Based on the current situation, everything around them was silent. The only audible noises had come from the sound of crushing ice beneath their soles. Brendel pulled his lips into a taut line and studied the environment. Hipamila and Laurenna held torches. Other than the small area illuminated by the torch, everything else was complete darkness. It was at that moment when Brendel noticed Aloz tugging on Shitah’s ear to come to a halt.
The little female dragon stopped because a door had appeared.
She squinted her golden eyes, studying the stone door intently. Strictly speaking, this wasn’t a complete door. Just like the Frozen Corridor, there was only half left to the stone door. Perhaps its other half had been lost with the missing corridor parts to the bottomless abyss during the same disaster. There were shattered portions to the door remains, stone chips scattered all around the path. The little female dragon turned around to look at Shitah. “What lies behind this and why is there a door here?”
“How would I know?” The little stout dragon grumbled with displeasure. “I haven’t even been to the insides of the cathedral, my task was only to lead everyone to the entrance beneath the glaciers.”
“That’s your promise to him. I don’t care, you must find the Awakening God. You need to find the Heart of the Dragon you lost too!” demanded Aloz barbarically.
“Wait. Sister Aloz, it wasn’t the Heart of the Dragon!”
“The Heart of the Dragon has nothing to do with me. What I’m saying is that you need to return me that fun toy!” The little female dragon hissed and glared at Shitah once before giving him the cold shoulder. Shitah immediately shrank into himself and said nothing.
Hearing their conversation, Brendel automatically ignored the second half of it. Aloz’s interest in the Awakening God was a little suspicious. Had the interest stemmed from personal interest or was there some ulterior motive? Aloz was a juvenile dragon who was a complete scatterbrain. But as the Golden Race in the game, Dragons were always given special tasks. At least they had fought off the dusk in the past. As far as Brendel’s knowledge went, the Bugas had built many monitoring stations to monitor the order of the border and Black Forest. According to Medissa, the Silver Elves were not completely ignorant of the world. If they had been ignorant, they wouldn’t have returned to Warndt because of the Great Demonic Wave.
It seemed as though everyone was working towards a goal, save for the carefree Black Dwarfs.
At this point, Brendel couldn’t help but cast another glance at Aloz.
Aloz was in the front instructing Shitah to push the stone door open. Though the door was hefty, it was nothing to the Dragon race. The damaged stone door had rolled backwards after a push was delivered by Shitah’s round paw. Behind it was a huge hall that was split in half. Perhaps it might be more appropriate to call it a square as the ceiling was mostly gone and the hall was left with half. Even so, the area was insanely large. The Palace of Gold in Aouine too had a square with a fountain; but in comparison to this place, it was immediately humbled. Brendel and the others stood outside the hall, trying to find the hall’s end with no success. Brendel was suddenly reminded of what this palace was. At this moment, a black shadow flashed behind the door and there came Shitah’s little exclaim of surprise. “Aiyo!” It sounded almost as if something had knocked into Shitah, causing the dragon to roll backwards like a ball and only stopping when it slammed into a corridor pillar.
The little female Dragon’s voice rang from the front. Though she wouldn’t hesitate to wave her claws at Shitah, it was merely out of the internal conflict between Dragons. Dragons were prideful creatures and they refused to be trampled over. Something had dared to send Shitah flying in front of her, this behaviour was completely unforgivable! But soon, the black shadow took a leap back and stood still, finally allowing everyone to catch a clear glimpse-------- It was not human but a wolf.
“A male wolf?” stated Veronica mindlessly.
It did look like the male wolf Brendel encountered in Valhalla. Its physique was as sturdy as a small hill and had taken up almost half of the hall. Its smooth long fur was grown behind its neck, looking just like a luxurious black brocade. However, it looked drastically different from regular wolves- It had a long horn between its brows. There was even a cloud of dark smoke wafting off the horn, a clear indication that it was no regular being.
“It’s not a male wolf! It’s a Dusk Wolf!” Brendel cheered internally. SS rank characters in the ‘Amber Sword’ were highly intelligent. He was sincerely concerned that the two wolves wouldn’t fall for their trap and avoid them. Yet, the wolves were indeed dull. Since Mel had appeared before them, the single-eye Mayne shouldn’t be far. At that moment, Brendel remembered this place.
This was the Hall of Traps.
The little female dragon took a clear look at the beast before it. With a low growl, she lunged forward. She could sense that this Dusk Wolf was only about as powerful as her. But she was a Dragon, one of the best in combat among the Golden Races. To Aloz, this stupid wolf was in no way superior to her and she had a mission----- Regardless if it was a matter of establishing dominance in Shitah’s face or to protect the pride of the Dragons, she must be the first to teach this unwelcomed guest a lesson.
However, she wasn’t expecting that once her claws were brandished, Brendel had sensed that something was amiss. He willed to warn her but unfortunately, the little female dragon was one step faster to react. As soon as the latter pounced, green lightning began to manifest out of the ceiling and the floor. The bolts of lightning seemed almost alive. As soon as it appeared, it went straight for Aloz. Dragons were blessed with a defence mechanism- their scales were incredibly resistant. Dragon scales were incredibly resistant to magic and physical attacks. Aloz would not be fazed by one or two of the lightning strikes but things were different. At this moment, thousands and millions of lightning bolts had swallowed the little female dragon whole, leaving behind her shrill scream of agony.
Brendel couldn’t help but palm his face.
What was she expecting of a place known as the Hall of Traps?!